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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Speaking Volumes, Saying Nothing

    Wire services often are more straightforward than other media.  But sometimes terse is worse.

    Janna Herron, a business reporter with Associated Press for the past five years, left her job colorfully on Friday.

    In an email to her (former) colleagues she wrote:

    I’m the 56th person to leave since the newsroom’s management style turned negative and mean-spirited three years ago. And I’m sure I’m not the last. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    So, best wishes to everyone. You’re all better editors, reporters and writers than what you’ve been told, and you deserve better leadership.

    We don’t have any insights into whether Herron has a leg to stand on, but we did find  AP’s spokesman, Paul Colford’s subsequent comments unsettling.

    When asked about Herron’s shot at management –Colford replied:
    “We have nothing to add.”

    Nothing to ADD Paul? Anything to subtract?

    Though probably not intentional, Colford’s response gives the impression that Herron’s allegations are on the mark. And perhaps they are.

    One would think that, perhaps without addressing her specifically, AP would want to say something positive about their management.

    At a minimum, they could have more artfully declined comment.  Instead of “nothing to add” – Colford could have said something like:  “We have no specific comments regarding the circumstances involving  Ms Herron’s departure but wish her well.”

    h/t  Romenesko

  • “Let’s Go to the (Audio) Tape”

    Attention Jocks: those little machines reporters hold can record your voice.

    Latest athlete to learn this lesson the hard way is Ray Small, a former wide receive for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

    Small was interviewed over the phone by the school newspaper, The Lantern, and was quoted as saying that “everybody” on the football team was breaking NCAA rules. This is entirely believable since five of Small’s teammates have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia to a tattoo parlor owner and the coach, Jim Tressel has been suspended for five games and fined $250,000 for failing to report what he knew about the matter.

    While Small’s statement was not surprising — what was unsettling was that when Buckeye Nation reacted negatively to his comments, Small told a local TV station that the Lantern newspaper reporter “flipped (his) words around.”

    Unfortunately for Small — the reporter has the interview on tape and the school paper says they stand by the story “100%.”  Stung by the accusation of  “word flipping,” The Lantern released excerpts of the audio of Small’s interview.

    Small is not the first person involved with athletics to get in trouble for committing truth. Just this week, Met’s owner Fred Wilpon found himself in a pickle for being quoted trashing his own team.

    A year ago (almost to the day) Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs blindsided his teammates by telling ESPN how they “imported” loose women for road trips. He too denied his own comments — only to find out that they were recorded by the journalist.

    The best way to avoid these kinds of situations, of course, is to avoid saying something stupid (or exceedingly honest) to a reporter. But if you flunk that test – however you try to get out of it — don’t go for the “I was misquoted” or “I was taken out of context” ploy if, upon further review, the tape proves you wrong.


  • Never Walk Off A Live TV Interview…

    …unless the studio is on fire.  You will look like a whining crybaby and your opponent gets free airtime to trash you.

    The latest to learn this lesson is Simon Rosenberg, a former aide to President Clinton, who was paired with radio talk show host Ben Ferguson on Fox News today.

    Fox anchor Shannon Bream did little to prevent her two guests from mugging each other in a conversation about Medicare.  When Ferguson serially interrupted him, the frustrated Rosenberg shouted “Ben, shut up!”

    The interview went down hill after that.  At about the 1.30 minute mark in the clip below, Rosenberg decided to bail out — leaving the field free for his antagonist to mock him for running away when encountering someone who disagreed with him.

    No matter how unpleasant an interview situation might be — if you are on live — stick it out.  Smile, shake your head, make it clear that you are the lone adult in the conversation.  But whatever you do don’t walk away.